Poll Attacks: One AP voter thinks Indiana isn't Big Ten's best
You think Indiana coach Tom Crean was mad at Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer? Wait till he hears an AP voter ranked his Hoosiers behind another Big Ten team even though the Hoosiers are the outright Big Ten champions and very clearly in possession of the league's best resume. Another confrontation coming? Maybe. Let's do the Poll Attacks.
Associated Press poll: Congratulations, Indiana.
You just won the Big Ten title outright with a dramatic victory at Michigan, meaning you're the sole champion of the nation's best basketball league and probably the safest bet of anybody to receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. And for that you get to be ranked outside of the top five and behind a fellow Big Ten school on one voter's ballot.
The top five on Mark Berman's ballot looks like this:
He has Indiana sixth.
How could anybody have Indiana sixth?
How could anybody have Indiana behind Ohio State?
Yes, I know, the Buckeyes beat Indiana last Tuesday. But so what? Baylor just beat Kansas. Kentucky just beat Florida. So unless you think it's time to move the Bears and Wildcats ahead of the Jayhawks and Gators then you can't reasonably think it's time to move the Buckeyes ahead of the Hoosiers -- especially considering Indiana split the season series with Ohio State and so clearly has a superior body of work.
Indiana is 8-3 against the top 25 of the RPI and 8-5 against the top 50 with zero losses outside of the top 50. Meantime, Ohio State is 4-5 against the top 25 of the RPI and 6-7 against the top 50 with zero losses outside of the top 50.
So what's better -- IU's 8-3 or OSU's 4-5?
And what's better -- IU's 8-5 or OSU's 6-7?
And what's better -- finishing first in the Big Ten or second in the Big Ten?
I know what's better. And you know what's better. But Mark Berman doesn't know what's better ... or, apparently, that Villanova shouldn't be on any Top 25 ballots. To be clear, Jay Wright deserves credit for getting his Wildcats in a position to make the NCAA tournament. But there's a difference between being a bubble team and being a Top 25 team, and that difference is why 64 of 65 AP voters omitted Villanova from their ballots.
The only one who didn't?
That's Berman. Perhaps he doesn't know Villanova is a 12-loss team with a 7-10 record against the top 100 with two losses outside of the top 100. Now he knows, though.
Coaches poll: Memphis is 20th in the AP poll, 17th in the coaches poll. But we're still not ranking Memphis in our Top 25 (and one), which has Memphis fans upset.
(They think I'm dumb but are confident Jeff Goodman is dumber. I agree with the latter.)
Our rationale is simple: We think Memphis is good and that going 16-0 in Conference USA is a great accomplishment, but it's hard for us to rank a team with just two top-50 wins and only one over a school that would be worthy of an at-large bid if the NCAA tournament started today. The lack of quality victories hurts Memphis with us, and it'll hurt Memphis with the selection committee, too. So just trust me when I tell you the Tigers' seeding in the Field of 68 almost certainly won't match their ranking in the national polls even if they roll through this week's Conference USA tournament, and the same exact logic applies to St. Mary's, which is ranked 21st in the latest coaches poll.
That makes less sense than ranking Memphis 17th.
Memphis does at least have two top-50 wins and no losses outside of the top 80 of the RPI. St. Mary's, on the other hand, has just one top-50 win and three losses outside of the top 80, meaning SMC's resume consists of little more than a home win over Creighton and 26 more wins over teams that range from average to bad. Is that good enough to get the Gaels in the field of 68? Probably. But it shouldn't be enough to get them in the Top 25.
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